Jan 20, 2022

USEA Collegiate Member: Jackson Dillard, FEI Competitor and Full Time Student at Clemson

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
Shannon Brinkman photo courtesy of Jackson Dillard.

“The Clemson Eventing Team does a fantastic job of creating a community of riders,” said collegiate member, Jackson Dillard. In 2021, Dillard competed his two horses, Elmo a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding bred by James Martin, and Layla Q (Loerke x Ayla Q) an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare bred by Suzanne Quarles. With his two horses, he completed six CCI2* events, he moved up to the Intermediate level with Layla Q, and he was on the winning Area II team of the CCI2*-L USEF Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals at Tryon International – he did this all while attending Clemson University full-time.

As an active member of the Clemson University Eventing Team, Dillard said, “I’ve met some of my best friends here at school through the team. Whether it’s coming out to set rails for an early morning jump school or having someone to talk to after a rough weekend, the community I’ve become a part of means so much to me.”

While sharing photos of his experience at Tryon, Dillard pointed out one photo that was most important to him which was a photo taken of his groom at Tryon. “Elle Choate, a biomechanical engineering major on the team with me at Clemson, who came up for the weekend and gave me some truly invaluable help.”

Elle Choate provided Dillard with tons of help. Shannon Brinkman photo.


In addition to the community support Clemson has provided Dillard, self-discipline is another attribute for Dillard’s success. Dillard explained his daily schedule. “Monday through Thursday I get up by 5:30 a.m. at the latest, I like to do some studying in the morning but still have time to be in the barn and on my first horse before 7:00 a.m. I aim to be done riding around 10:00 a.m., this gives me some time in the barn to take care of other chores. On Mondays and Tuesdays, this means unpacking from the weekend, and Wednesdays and Thursdays are packing for the coming weekend. After that, I swing by my apartment for lunch (and sometimes if I’m lucky a quick catnap) and head to classes which run from 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. After that, I’ll have various meetings for clubs and student groups which have me home around 9:00 p.m. every night. After that I study and do homework, as a general rule I try to be asleep by 11:00 p.m.”

“My schedule is designed such that I don’t have class on Friday, allowing me to compete without missing classes and to travel for an extra day on the weekend. I’ve spent all but two weekends this semester on the road, whether that’s competitions or going away for lessons; I travel to Bobby Costello in Southern Pines for lessons whenever I can.”

“Planning out my schedule weeks in advance is probably the only reason I’m able to keep it together. I make sure I always have a to-do list within arm’s reach, so when I think of something to do, I can always write it down before I forget it, and then I always make sure everything gets done.

Shannon Brinkman photo.


Dillard, a full-time student with a 4.0 GPA, has taken every opportunity possible to create the full college experience. “I decided it was super important to me to not miss out on all the niche opportunities college has to offer. In pursuit of these extracurriculars, I’ve become a member of the Dixon Fellows program, a Fellow in the Lyceum Program (a political science group), Clinic Chair on the eventing team, as well as a co-president of the Clemson Photography Club.”

So, how does he balance it all? It’s his mindset. “When I think of balance, I tell myself that it’s a verb and not a noun, it’s not a state one achieves, it’s an action you have to perform every day based on what the circumstances present. Every day you get it right you can step back and think ‘cool.’ Before you sit down and prepare for whatever mixed bag the next day has in store. For me, balance sometimes looks a bit like running headlong, putting in the effort to keep my legs under me.”

“I’ll pass along the best piece of advice I received when I started on the same path: ‘Find good help.’ I’ve managed to develop an amazing network of people that help me in a multitude of ways. In Clemson, I work out of Stoneridge Equestrian, owned by Chimene Evans, and the home of Jared Beasley Sporthorses; having the horses in their care always gives me peace of mind. Beyond that, I’ve come to appreciate I’ve got a small army of folks that always seem willing to lend a helping hand wherever I find myself. It’s quite the elaborate jigsaw puzzle, and I’m grateful for everyone who’s a part of it,” said Dillard.

Shannon Brinkman photo.

Interested in joining the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program? Click here for more information and here to see which colleges currently offer a USEA affiliated Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

The 2022 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships will take place on May 21-22, 2022 at Chattahoochee Hills H.T. in Fairburn, Georgia. Every school must renew its affiliate registration with the USEA for 2022. Click here to renew.

Don’t forget to send your team rosters to [email protected] before February 15, 2022!

About the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program

The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Program was established in 2014 to provide a framework within which eventing teams and individual competitors could flourish at universities and colleges across the country. The USEA offers a discount of $25 on annual USEA memberships for current students of universities and colleges registered as Affiliates with the USEA. Many events across the country now offer Intercollegiate Team Challenges where collegiate eventers can compete individually as well as on teams with their fellow students. In Intercollegiate Team Challenges, each rider’s score is multiplied by a coefficient appropriate for their level to account for differences in level difficulty, and then the individual scores are added together to determine the team score. Click here to learn more about the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, EQuine AMerica Magazine, FITS, Kerrits, RevitaVet, R&J Equine, USEF, World Equestrian Brands, and Saratoga Horseworks for sponsoring the Intercollegiate Eventing Program.

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